THUNDER BAY – Mining Now – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose showed support for Neskantaga First Nation’s legal challenge to Ring of Fire development during today’s hearing by the Ontario Mining and Land Commissioner.
“I am pleased to support Chief Moonias and Neskantaga First Nation as they exercise their right to provide free, prior and informed consent before any resource development can occur in their traditional territory, as this is the international standard that NAN First Nations have demanded that the governments of Ontario and Canada must uphold,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose, who attended today’s hearings in Toronto.
“NAN Chiefs-in-Assembly support the position of Matawa First Nations Council that the development of the Ring of Fire will not proceed until a trilateral environmental assessment process is established, resource benefits and revenue are negotiated and the fundamental question of First Nation jurisdiction is addressed.”
Neskantaga has intervened in a dispute between Cliffs Natural Resources and junior mining company KWG Resources over the development of a road to access a proposed $3.2-billion chromite mine in the Attawapiskat River watershed, the homeland of Neskantaga First Nation. In a petition filed with the Ontario Mining and Land Commissioner, the First Nation seeks to be meaningfully consulted and accommodated before any approval is granted for a 340-kilometre road through their traditional territory.
“Neskantaga is rightly asserting that concerns of First Nations must be considered before strategic decisions and approvals are made concerning the development of natural resources in their traditional territory,” said Waboose. “The responsible development of the resources in our lands has the potential to strengthen our communities and the Canadian economy, but we will continue to demand that First Nations have the opportunity to provide free, prior and informed consent before any projects can proceed.”
Earlier this year, NAN opposed major cuts to Canada’s environmental review process that will allow resource development in NAN First Nation traditional territory to be fast-tracked without proper consultation. NAN has called for the Government of Canada to work with the Government of Ontario to develop an approach to resource development that recognizes and respects the rights and interests of First Nations. This would include substantive discussions on the recognition of First Nation jurisdiction over their lands, including resource revenue sharing and opportunities for NAN communities through education and training, employment and business development.